Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Obligatory Olympics Post: Hyperbole and NBC

When I was in 6th grade, I recall being assigned a worksheet that was a quick exercise to check that we understood the lesson before we moved on within the framework of the day's lesson. We were learning about how to use metaphor, hyperbole and other tidbits of language that employ imagery.

One of the take aways from the lesson, that I found odd at the time, was Ms. Jarcik's off-the-book comment that you shouldn't use too much hyperbole, because people find it annoying. Well, normally The League loves hyperbole, but, darn it... if the announcers for the Olympics at NBC aren't ruining it for me.

In watching both men and women's gymnastics this week, it struck me that so much of why I have trouble watching gymnastics/ taking gymnastics seriously, is the insistence on every other phrase uttered from the announcer's mouth insisting that every single flip of the wrist or hop on the balance beam isn't just important to that routine... but that it's a mistake upon which the Olympics hang. And that, seriously, is not hyperbole.

Add in the turn-on-a-dime commentary in which the announcers switch from lauds and honor to expressing their disgust with some poor kid in tights, often within the same breath, and its often a mind-blowing ride trying to figure out if the announcers are lobbying for the beatification of some 16 year-old or blame her slip on the balance beam for crushing the spirit of America.

I know that these announcers' lives are gymnastics, but its just lacking that perspective that you get in about June about the baseball season from the announcers, when they're talking about what was on TV last night and what people in the crowd are up to.

It seems you can really point to gymnastics and diving as the two sports where the announcers don't just comment upon performance, but microscopically pick every movement apart (which is what the judges are doing) but do it in this really pedantic, school marm tone.

This evening the little blonde girl, Nastia, had a nigh-perfect routine, scoring a 16.9 (which is .1 away from perfection), and no sooner had the first announcer said "16.9!" than the other announcer was tripping all over himself to insist "It's just not going to be enough!"

Dude. Shut up. Learn to enjoy a moment or two. Life's too short. And, moreover... what are you like at home? What with the turn-on-a-dime swings between giddiness and praise to immediate condemnation...? It must be exhausting.

How anyone can tune these nags out, and how NBC can't find someone who doesn't come off like such a shrew for both diving and gymnastics is beyond me.

I feel bad, because it really makes the Olympics almost unwatchable when you have to listen to these announcers. Plus, I know Jamie loves gymnastics (she's a former cheerleader), and I too infrequently bite my tongue and just let it ride when the announcers make some breathless comment. So it leads to me ruining the whole thing for her.

So, really, NBC is slowly ruining my marriage with their sub-standard color commentators.


J.S. said...

My only suggestion is to turn down the volume on your television and to put on some music- maybe Cake or Willie Nelson. They always put me in a good mood.

Michael Corley said...

I recall a comedian says "what else do you (the announcer) want from that figure skater? How many sparklers would she have to pull out of her butt to satify you?"